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Need tips and feedback on PACKRAT results and study plans.

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Hi everyone,


I scored a 124 on my packrat before clinicals about 6 months ago (nat'l avg: 130). I'm practicing the older ones now and getting 140-150. I plan to take boards in January 2016. I see many people here posting here said they got around 160s before clinicals. Can someone who was/is in my shoes perhaps give me some reassurance and study tips? If you scored in the 120s before clinicals, were you able to pass PANCE on the first try??


I plan to use the following as my study materials for questions in order of importance:


-Emory DVD which has Exam master questions

-Kaplan questions

-PA Davis book

-AAPA comprehensive book's online questions

-Old packrats



For reading and reviewing the "big 5" systems:

-AAPA Comprehensive book which I'll supplement with:

-Step Up to Medicine (maybe ill use USMLE Step 2 CK instead since I've heard that's better - thoughts??)

-Clinical Cardiology made ridiculously Simple (this is a must for me)

-Emory lectures DVD

-Case Files IM and FM


I have about 6 months to prepare, 3 of which I'll be on rotations, and the other 3 of which I'll be free to study.

I have heard that pathophysiology is a MUST to comprehensively understand in order to pass. I wasn't really planning to emphasize too much time on this, but after hearing this I wonder if I should reconsider. Can recent PANCE takers respond to this?


Any comments, tips, or feedback would be appreciated!




Edit: The 2/3 months I have alotted to study are built into my program as breaks and placed between my scheded clinical rotations. After graduation I will take 1 month to study. This is to clarify that I won't be taking off 3 consecutive months to study after graduating .

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You will hear a lot about what others think you should know about this test. 

Those whom will have recently taken the PANCE will come out and remark on certain areas they wish they studied or what they perceive as a focus.

Problem with that is that the test they took likely will not be the test you take 6 months from now.

Also, I would not put too much weight on the recall of any test taker after 360 questions over the course of a day. 


A few points to consider.


120 something on the PACKRAT is not the end of the world. And those scoring in the 160s are the other extreme end of the bell curve.

As the clinical year progresses, graduation comes and goes, the real world beckons, the consistent factor will be that time becomes short and precious. So you have to become smarter at studying.


Better than studying is to instead view what you are doing as expanding your knowledge base in order to do your job. Since you dont have a job yet, your potential job is as a primary care PA and prepare to be that regardless of whatever you think you may turn into.


That means you have to identify what you don't know. Fortunately, this has already been done for you. The PACKRAT provides keyword feedback on incorrect answers. So you already know that you dont know the clinical intervention for Mobitz heart block. You can do the same thing with end of rotation exams and the feedback provided there. Any further exams you can glean similar information from. No reason to read over and over what you already know. That brings a false sense of knowing. 


Invariably, what occurs is that a process is given up on. So the review books and the test banks pile up. Unfortunately nothing gets retained. What I think is a better approach is to write down a disease or disorder from NCCPA blueprint. Then take the task areas from the content blueprint and answer those as if they were a question. If can legitimately write down answers to everything then have a great grasp of the subject. If can then answer questions about the disorder from test banks, need to spend time with something can't write on extensively or perform poorly on using test banks.


Have to be very motivated to do this on your own. Better to do with a classmate or two. Company helps.


Good luck.

G Brothers PA-C

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I don't know why so many people get worked up about not passing the PANCE and how stressed out they are about it. Do you guys realize that 95% of 1st time test takers pass? Think about that for a second. So for an average class of 35 students that's 1-2 students failing. Are you the dumbest 1 or 2 people in your class? If you got a 124 on the Packrat that means you were just below average, which means you are still way above passing. The paea did a study that correlated Packrat scores to predicting PANCE scores and they determined that a 111 was equivalent to a 350. Again, you're 124 is way above passing, and that's before clinicals.


I'm not saying that you don't need to study and you should just coast through the rest of clinicals, but just keep doing what you're doing and you'll do fine. Taking 3 months off to strictly study for the PANCE is a huge mistake in my opinion. There's no bonus points awarded for scoring a 700 when a 400 (in reality you'll probably score 500+ by the seriousness of your post) will still pass. Take a couple weeks afterwards to study and then take the test. Don't miss out on the $20,000 you're giving up in lost salary

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 Don't worry about packrat. I never studied for packrat, never got above 160, but I did very well on my boards. You would need to worry if you were scoring less than 120 after rotations.  Step up to Medicine is your best review book in existence. I would only use another review book for stuff step up doesn't cover, like a lot of derm or MSK. Use KAPLAN for practice questions.


You need to understand pathophys, sure, but you don't need to go crazy. I only reviewed pathophys of cardio and pulm systems. Know the side effects and MOA of your big primary care drugs that most of your patients were on during rotations. 

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  • 1 month later...

Yes 160 out of 225 is a very good score.  Keep that in mind as you sit in the Pearson Vue testing center taking your test. 

You have much learning to do in your clinical year.   You have been given good advice here by the others.


I will add one more comment.  There is a blueprint, which is your friend.


Study the top 6 the most -- -CV 16%, Pulm 12%, GI 10%, EENT 9% (no one bothers with this, but you SHOULD), and OB/GYN 8% = 55% of your test


You do NOT need to know everything to score well above passing on the PANCE -- so no studying acid-base, memorizing the Cockroft-Gault formula, or learning how to quickly interpret a 12 lead ECG, memorizing the coag cascade factors --- just know your CV drugs, treatments, clinical interventions, and do this for the top 6 topics, and you will be Golden.


Get out there and learn as much as you can in clinicals -- it will serve you well!


Best of luck, jackie

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  • 1 month later...

Hi guys, 

I am just finishing up my first year of PA school and getting ready to move on to the clinical year. We have to take and pass the pack rat before we can move on. I have been taking old pack rat tests to practice. I'm just wondering how to calculate my score to gauge where I am at. According to my professors my score should be about 117-120 to pass. Is there a weird formula for calculating this? or is is just 117-120 out of the 225.


I have been scoring about 160/225. Is that good?

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